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William L. Woodfin, Jr 

As I am writing this month's column, 
our state is still in a very serious 
drought situation. Regardless of 
where you may live in Virginia, it is 
certain you have heard much about 
the lack of rainfall, not only this year, 
but over the past several years. This 
lack of rainfall has not only created 
hardships for people that rely on wells 
for drinking water, but it has also had 
a significant impact on wildlife and 
forests. For the past several years as 
we approached hunting season, we 
have asked those going afield to be 
ever mindful of the dry conditions in 
our woods. This year is no different. 
The lack of moisture, combined with 
the fuel on our forests floor, create a 
situation for which we must all be 
mindful. Hunters can and do serve as 
an early warning system. This year, as 
we approach hunting season, we ask 
that you not only be careful about 
your own actions, but that you also re- 
mind others of their need to be careful 
while in the woods. 

For hundreds of thousands of Vir- 
ginians, November doesn't just have 
turkey day. For these folks, November 
brings deer days, grouse days, rabbit 
days, and many more great hunting 
days afield. With healthy populations 
of a variety of game species and thou- 
sands of acres of places to hunt, like 
Virginia's newest wildlife manage- 
ment area Big Survey, the opportuni- 
ties in the Old Dominion abound. 

Credit for many of these opportu- 
nities can be given to the professional- 
ism, dedication, and hard work of De- 
partment staff. Exemplifying these 
characteristics is Wildlife Division Di- 
rector Robert W. Duncan, who earlier 
this fall, was recognized by Return to 
Nature, Inc. for his contributions in 
natural resource stewardship. Execu- 
tive Director of Return to Nature, Inc. 
Mike Roberts said of Duncan, "He is 

William L. Woodfin, Jr. (left) and Mike 
Roberts (right) present Robert W Duncan 
with the Dr. Leonard Lee Rue III Natural 
Resource Stewardship Award. 

someone who truly loves and re- 
spects the natural environment and, 
through genuine concern, has raised 
the bar of awareness in regard to the 
importance of outreach education." 
Return to Nature, Inc. focuses on edu- 
cating boys and girls about the vital 
importance of natural resource con- 
servation and seeks to foster a deep 
appreciation of the need for responsi- 
ble environmental stewardship to 
preserve nature for the enjoyment 
and benefit of future generations. 

It is with the support of organiza- 
tions like Return to Nature, Inc., we 
have success in working toward our 
mission. Another organization that 
I'd like you to remember as we go into 
the holidays is Hunters for the Hun- 
gry, which has been responsible for 
feeding the less fortunate in Virginia. 
Through the contributions of hunters 
and many, many sponsors, Hunters 
for the Hungry continues to make a 
difference, having provided more 
than one million pounds of venison to 
feeding programs since 1991. When 
we gather around our tables, we can 
give thanks for the opportunities not 
just to be able to experience great 
hunting, fishing, and outdoor adven- 
tures, but also to help others through 
our efforts. For more information 
about Hunters for the Hungry, please 
call 1-800-352-4868 or visit their Web 

Commonwealth of Virginia 
Mark R. Warner, Governor 


Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr. 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

William L. Woodfin, Jr., Director 

Members of the Board 

Charles G. McDaniel, Fredericksburg 


Richard L. Corrigan, Arlington 


Cecil T. Campbell, Warrenton 

Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 

Chuck Cunningham, Fairfax 

Jimmy Dean, Varina 

Daniel A. Hoffler, Eastville 

Dan R. McCoy, Big Stone Gap 

Will McNeely Charlottesville 

Richard E. Railey, Courtland 

Jack T. Shoosmith, Chester 

Magazine Staff 

Lee Walker, Editor 

Mel White, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon Smitl 

Contributing Editors 

Emily Pels, Art Director 

Spike Knuth, Illustrator, Staff Writer 

Carol Kushlak, Production Assistant 

Marika Byrd,CPS, Office Manager 

Staff Contributors: Carol Heiser, Mitzi Lee 

Color separations and printing by Nirtar 
Valley Offset, State College, PA. 

Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish in maintain optimum populations of all species (o serve the needs of the Commonwealth; 

to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation; to promote safety 

for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is publish, 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game ar 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 747 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other cor 
munications concerning this publication 
Virginia Wildlife, P.O. Box 11104, 4010 West Bro; 
Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Sul 
scription rate is $10.00 for one year, $24.00 fi 
three years; $2.00 per each back issue, subject 
availability. Out-of-country rates are the same b 
must be paid in U.S. funds. To subscribe, call tol 
free (800) 710-9369. Postmaster: Please send c 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P.O. Box 747 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Postage for periodic.! 
paid at Richmond, Virginia and additional Hit 

Copyright 2002 by the Virginia Department i 
Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisherii 
shall afford to all persons an equal access 
Department programs and facilities withot 
regard to race, color, religion, national origin, di 
ability, sex, or age. If you believe that you hai 
been discriminated against in any program, acti . I 
ity, or facility, please write to: Virginia Departmc 
of Game and Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliant 
Officer, 4010 West Broad Street. P.O. Box 1110 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general inform 
tional purposes only and every effort has bei 
made to ensure its accuracy. The information civ. i 
tained herein does not serve as a legal represent 
tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulations l! 
Virginia Department of Game and hilar 
Fisheries does not assume responsibility tor ai 
change in dates, regulations, or information tli 
may occur after publication." 




page 13 

page 22 

About the cover: Canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) carved by 
wildlife artist Willy Wilmoth. The canebrake rattlesnake is listed as an 
endangered species in Virginia. It inhabits the forests and swampy areas 
of the lower Peninsula and the southeastern corner east of the Dismal 
Swamp. It is only one of two ratdesnakes found in Virginia, the other 
being the timber rattlesnake. 


4 Nature's Silent Message by Lee Walker 

Wildlife carver and sculptor Willy Wilmoth shares his art and wisdom, 
while bringing awareness of our natural world. 

J Sweet Revenge by Mike Roberts 
This is one hunting story you won't forget. 

1 3 The Cutting Edge by Tom Barnett 

When it comes to owning that perfect outdoor tool, nothing beats a good knife. 

1 / Virginia Wildlife Outdoor Catalog 

Great gift giving ideas for this holiday season. 

LL Predators Get a Bum Rap by Carol Heiser 

This month Wild in the Woods gives you something to chew on as we look at the 
importance of a balanced ecological food web. 

30 Fulfilling a Dream byMitziLee 

November Journal 

27 Journal 

31 Recipes 
Ground Venison 

32 On The Water 

Winter Lay-up 

33 Backyard Wild 
Easy to Grow Flowers 
For Wildlife 

34 Naturally Wild 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 

Virginia Wildlife Outdoor 

Catalog— your guide 

to that perfect 


see page 17 




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12 issues for $10.00! 
36 issues for $24.00 

Through art, Willy Wilmoth has 

a message he wants to share. 

A message he hopes 

inspires each of us to look 

more closely at our 

natural surroundings. 


"You must spend time 
in nature to find the real 
treasures in life. " 


by Lee Walker 

he words of Aldo Leopold, one of this 
country's best known pioneer conserva- 
tionists, might best describe the work of 
Willy Wilmoth — wood carver, sculptor, 
and environmentalist. 

"Like winds and sunsets, wild things were 
taken for granted until progress began to do away 
with them. Now we face the question whether a 
still higher standard of living is worth its cost in 
things natural, wild, and free." 

Like Aldo Leopold, who greatly valued the wis- 
dom he gained from nature, Willy Wilmoth has a 
message to pass along. Only his is not of the spo- 
ken word, but rather an attempt to place wildlife 
in the forefront for all of us to see. From his heart 
and through his hands Willy cuts, chips, and 
carves pieces of wood and stone to reveal a world 
that humans rarely see. 

Born and raised in Chesterfield County, Willy 
has, for over half a century, used his self-taught tal- 
ents to craft once breathing and growing grains of 
wood and hardened masses of stone into carved 

Nicknamed the "butcher bird," the loggerhead 
shrike hunts from exposed perches looking for 
insects and rodents to feed on. Since they do not 
possess talons like a raptor, they will impale their 
prey on thorns, barbed wire, and other sharp 
objects to help with handling and eating. 

and sculpted images of wildlife. Willy 
has always had a desire to explore the 
natural world, which has taken him 
as far away as the Australian Out- 
back. During his yearlong stay he 
lived with a native tribe of nomadic 
Aborigines. It was there that Willy 
was taught the ancient art of how to 
"read the language of nature." It was a 
simple lesson of patience and learning 
to sit quietly and observe wildlife, a 
skill Willy feels that has been lost to 
progress and to our fast 
paced lifestyles. Willy now 
devotes his time to spreading 

Left: The red-tailed hawk feath- 
ers and a deer antler carved by 
Willy are hard to tell apart from 
the real thing. Above: This life- 
size red-tailed hawk was made 
from a single block of walnut 
and carved to highlight the 
bird's detailed feathering. 

the message and teaching others 
about the importance of the natural 
world around us. He wants people 
to know that it's important that we 
take the time to listen to wildlife and 
our environment before it's too late. 
Willy's works of art are a study in 
time and reflect a message of the 
way animals communicate in na- 
ture. "I must see what I am going to 
carve, first hand in the wild, before I 
can clearly see it in my mind, 
whether it be as grand as a soaring 
red-tailed hawk or as sobering as a 
fox dying from starvation." Many of 
the animals that he has immortal- 
ized in wood are lesser-known 
species, like the loggerhead shrike 
or rattlesnake, which are often mis- 
judged and ridiculed by their repu- 

tation. Whatever appears when the 
thin slivers of wood or chips of stone 
fall prey to Willy's sharp carving 
knife, become objects to admire with 
the eyes, studied by the mind, and 
most importantly touched with the 
hands. "My sculptures are meant to 
be touched as much as they are 
meant to touch those who gaze 
upon them." 

Willy's journey is one he says will 
never end. It's a quest that has al- 
lowed him to do what he loves and 
at the same time live a simple life. 
Most importantly it has offered him 
a chance to teach others about carv- 
ing, wildlife, and our environment. 
His artwork and gift as a teacher 
have also gained him much acclaim, 
not only here in Virginia, but 

"Learn to accept what nature has to offer, and don't 
try to change it to suit your needs. " 

Top: Much of Willy's art, like this falcon 
created from wood, and this northern 
river otter (left) sculpted from a single 
block of alabaster, are designed not 
only to be looked at but to be touched. 
Photos by Lee Walker. 

M * 


throughout the country. His carv- 
ings and stone sculptures have ap- 
peared in schools, art galleries, and 
museums, which currently include 
a display at the Virginia Museum of 
Fine Arts in Richmond that runs 
from October 5, 2002-January 19, 

As you look upon a few of Willy 
Wilmoth's carvings and words of 
wisdom, take a moment to reflect on 
your relationship with nature and 
the environment, and whether your 
day-to-day actions are making a 
positive difference in the small 
world that we all live in. □ 

Willy Wilmoth's carvings can vary 
from a hummingbird (the size of a 
thumbnail) to life -size animals, like 
the barred owl (right) or the black 
bear (below). 

"We have become a 
society where time is 
fleeting away and 
those things that 
seem important are 
only a distraction 
from the real world 
that surrounds us. " 

We have to slow down and listen to 
nature before it's too late 

Willy's art, like this dying screech 
owl, often reflects natures darker 
side where death and the struggle 
to survive are a fact of life for ani- 
mals in the wild. 

It's important that people know the good 
and bad that nature offers. " 

Above: Willy spends a great deal of his 
time teaching others the joy of carv- 
ing. Through his efforts, he hopes that 
people will gain a greater appreciation 
for wildlife and our environment. 
Below: The relationship that Native 
Americans have with nature has in- 
spired many of Willys carvings. 

"Look for a higher power in nature, 
and you will be surprised what you 
may find. 

story by Mike Roberts 
illustrations by Emily Pels 

Only once in my life have I purposely vowed and plotted vengeful 

retaliation against a fellow sportsman. 

Many years ago, on a memorable late-autumn day, the doors of opportunity 

swung open allowing me to finally repay my best friend with a double dose 

of his own medicine. The circumstances leading up to that precise moment in 

time remains one of my favorite outdoor memories. 

n the cold, predawn hours of last year's deer season 
^ opener, I scrambled up a giant beech to my stand 
I some 60 feet above a steep ravine. Hope was that 
sometime during the day a whitetail buck would sneak 
through the thick corridor of honeysuckle below in an 
attempt to escape hunters on the adjacent farm. This 
same plan had paid off nicely in each of the five previ- 
ous hunting seasons. 

After pulling an overloaded backpack and rifle up 
the tree, I painstakingly removed a pair of noisy boot 
blankets from the pack and slowly slipped them over 
my frost-covered boots. Fumbling blindly through 

binoculars, bullets, and provisions enough to get me 
through the entire day, I found the wool balaclava that 
was sure to protect my face from the high winds that 
had been forecast. Upon squirming into insulated bibs 
and an oversized coat, I again reached into the pack. 
This time my cold fingers felt the welcomed warmth 
radiating from two activated hand-warmers zipped in- 
side a muffler. 

Cozy as a cat sleeping in front of a fireplace, I settled 
down to await the arrival of another opening day, 
which seemed just as exciting as my first one had over 
30 years ago. With nearly an hour remaining until legal 


shooting light, there was now time 
for studying stars and to listen for 
the calling of mysterious night birds. 
Above all else, this was quality time 
to ponder life without the plaguing 
interruption of telephones, faxes, 
and e-mails. I had deliberately 
planned it that way! 

Sitting there like a Cabela's poster 
child, and layered to withstand 
practically anything that Mother 
Nature could dish out, I thought 
about how much deer hunting had 
changed over the years. Three 
decades ago my hunting clothes 
were fabricated out of cotton materi- 
al; the only woolen garment I owned 
was a Sunday suit that Mother made 
sure was worn at least once a week. 
Jim Crumley was yet to stage his 
great American camouflage revolu- 
tion. Raingear was noisy plastic, 
while waterproofed boots reeked of 
smelly oils. Archery was recurves, 
cedar shafts, feather fletching, and 
razorheads. Portable treestands 
were homemade and safety belts 
had obviously not been invented. 
Hunting was recreation, not a gadg- 
et market or a science governed by 
the lunar phases. And you could still 
get lost in the woods of Bedford 

But in having a choice of hunting 
methods, as in choosing between oil 
lamps and electricity, I'll take the 
new and improved version. Besides, 
I have sufficient memories of numb 
fingers and cold feet. However, 
those physical sacrifices were a 
small price to pay for recurring 
thoughts of days long gone when 
chasing whitetails was simple and 
fun. And so, while waiting for 
dawn, I retraced the events that led 
up to one of my most unforgettable 
days afield. 

Although I never had a real 
brother, Phil Davis would have been 
my first choice for one. As new hires 
at Babcock and Wilcox in 1970, we 
became friends from the first day on 
the job. Phil was a pleasant sort of in- 
dividual who could perform any 
task with the greatest of precision. 
As luck would have it, through asso- 

ciation, I latched onto his work 
ethics and somehow managed to 
adjust to a foreign world of quality 
control. During those endless 
twelve-hour shifts, our friendship 
was molded out of a common inter- 
est for the great outdoors. 

Hunting white-tailed deer was 
relatively new to me, having taken 
my first buck in November of 1969. 
But I was rightfully proud, since 
only 103 deer were legally checked 
in Bedford County that year. On the 
other hand, Phil grew up on 
an Amherst County farm 
that bordered the Ped- 
lar River, a haven for 
deer. More impor- 
tantly, my friend 
had four older 
brothers who 
knew "how" to 
hunt whitetails. 

Through that 
first spring and 
summer of na- 
tive trout fish- 
ing together, 
the two of us 
talked our- 
selves into a '^nS. 
m a d den- 
ing antici- gg 

pation of - , S±... 

autumn. \ \\. 

Many a 
paper pie plate 
was ventilated 
while preparing 
for the upcom- 
ing archery sea- 
son. When the 
calendar page 
finally flipped 
over to Octo- 
ber, we were 


From the beginning Phil suggest- 
ed that we target a particular piece 
of terrain located in the George 
Washington National Forest — a se- 
cluded place his brothers had hunt- 
ed on occasion. Not only was this re- 
gion rugged, it was tough to get to. 
The road used to transport timber 
out years earlier was growing up 
and terribly eroded. There were 
streams and gorges with ancient 
wooden bridges to cross, but Phil 
had a Jeep and loved the challenge. 

The key to this area was its limit- 
ed access. Several miles to the west 
lay Lynchburg Reservoir, a narrow, 
deep body of water that blocked 
all means of passage from the 
main forest service road. East- 
ward, a gigantic, sharp- 
topped mountain overshad- 
owed the surrounding 
peaks. We called it Hamil- 
ton's Mountain, out of re- 
spect and fear for the eld- 
m&L erly gentleman who daily 
the line of 
trees sep- 
ar ating 
his land 
from that 
of the federal 
government. The old 
man's reputation of con- 
fronting trespassers with harsh 
words and a shotgun was leg- 
endary. "No Trespassing" 
signs, decorating the posts of 
a barbed-wire fence, prevent- 
ed the general public from 
hiking across private prop- 
erty on the south end. The 
only entrance from the 
north was down an 






old logging road, but one look at that incline discour- 
aged most travel. Even for the few hardy souls who 
dared, the decaying bridge over the creek caused them 
to reconsider. We had this neck of the woods all to our- 

The forestland there was a mixture 
of hardwood trees and white ^-^^t! 
pines, bordered by large tracts i^K^V^ 

of regenerating clear-cuts. 
One needed not to be a bi- A 






ologist to recognize the potential of this bountiful edge 
habitat. Buck rubs and scrapes graced every ridge that 
overlooked Pedlar River, while 
turkey scratchings were common- 
place throughout the stands of ma- 
ture oaks. Hand-sized tracks and scat con- 
firmed our suspicions that black bears roamed the 
deep hollows, too. Impenetrable thickets of greenbrier 
and grapevines were nothing short of grouse heaven. 
We had discovered a wildlife bonanza and its location 
was to remain our secret! 

That first archery season found us making regular 
weekend excursions to the isolated mountain. What 
that meant for me was leaving home at 3:00 in the 
morning for an hour commute to Phil's place. Then, it 
was another half-hour drive to the national forest, not 
to mention forty-five minutes of slipping and sliding 
down the access road. After parking, we had a mile 
hike through the darkness to our treestands. 

Phil could sit patiently in his stand for hours, but I 
could not. Usually by nine o'clock my feet were back 
on the ground hauling me up and down the steep 
mountainside at a pace that likely spooked every deer 
in the woods. Consequently, I was always first to ar- 
rive back at the vehicle for lunch. Now, there are few 
things in life as relaxing as lying on the ground and 
nodding off in the warmth of the noonday sun, espe- 
cially after driving half the night to drill to the marrow 
in a treestand. Each Saturday I looked forward to such 
a nap, and that's where the problem started. 

As good of a guy as he was, Phil had a nasty habit 
~^ of pussyfooting back to the Jeep to catch me 
asleep. Quietly stalking to 
within three or four yards of 
where I lay passed out, he 
4 would stomp the ground 
and snort loudly like a 
startled deer. In a fright- 
ened stupor, I would jump 
up and grab my bow before 
realizing what was going on. 
Phil would then sink to his knees 
in disgusting laughter, while my 
heart pounded like rapid cannon- 
fire. This man was having the time of 
his life at my expense. 
All too soon the season ended. Even 
though there had been more deer 
sign in that place than anywhere I 
had ever set foot, neither of us 


When it comes to seeking re- 
venge, even the best of plans can 
run astray. 

1 I 

took a respectable buck. Regardless, 
we had fun and learned a thing or 
two along the way. 

Throughout the following sum- 
mer, we planned our strategy for the 
next hunting season like two veter- 
an Army generals plotting a war. In 
an overwhelming concentration on 
trophy bucks, my burning desire to 
avenge the grudge melted away like 
frost kissed by the morning sun. I 
completely forgot about the prob- 
lem until the first day of bow season 
when Phil caught me off guard 
again. And that's when I got serious 
about the situation. Something had 
to be done to teach him a lesson. 

Ironically, Phil was frightened out 
of his wits a few days later, although 
I had absolutely nothing to do with 
it. While exploring an old drag road 
that cut through a wildlife clearing, 
the promising trail ended abruptly 
in a briar patch. As he was attempt- 
ing to back out of the tormenting 
blackberry vines and locust 
saplings, Phil heard a commotion in 
the leaves nearby. To his surprise, 
two big black bears were headed di- 
rectly toward where he stood hope- 
lessly entangled in the thorny mess. 
Feeling quite helpless, without an 
arrow nocked, Phil remained mo- 
tionless as the furry creatures passed 
at little more than an arm's length 
away. It was said later that the re- 
curved bow he was white-knuck- 
ling seemed somewhat inadequate. 
One might suspect that after such an 
experience a man of Phil's character 
would have altered his conduct, but 
a week later he scared me senseless 

Over the next few trips to the 
mountain I looked for every possi- 
ble avenue of getting back at Phil, 
but to no avail. My friend was as 
sharp as a tack and time was run- 
ning out again. There was one Satur- 
day remaining in archery season. 

Somewhat disappointed, neither 
of us had taken a shot at a buck dur- 
ing the entire season, but there was 
hope for the last day. Walking in 
with the aid of a flashlight that 
morning, I was encouraged by a 

huge set of fresh hoof-prints in the 
muddy road near an abandoned 
homestead. We had seen these same 
tracks many times, but had not laid 
eyes on the animal. Continuing on, I 
reached my tree and made the 
dreaded climb. About the middle of 
the morning curiosity got the best of 
me and down I came. 

Sometime later, after the sun had 
cleared the top of Hamilton's Moun- 
tain, I reasoned that most deer had 
bedded for the morning and that 
perhaps it was best to head back to 
the Jeep for lunch. Rounding a bend 
near the home place, I spotted 
movement up ahead and immedi- 
ately stopped. That's when I saw 
him standing in the roadway. No, 
not the big buck, but Phil Davis lean- 
ing against his bow and staring 
down at the tracks I had seen earlier. 

Quickly stepping out of the road 
and behind an enormous white 
pine, I peeked out just in time to see 
Phil heading my way. With linger- 
ing thoughts of the recent bear inci- 
dent, an evil scheme was quickly 
formulated into a vicious bruin at- 
tack. Watching his approach with 
the intensity of a starving predator, I 
was careful not to make direct eye 
contact. Slowly bending over, I 
picked up a good-sized, dead pine 
limb that would come in handy for 
creating noise. The assault had to 
come at precisely the right moment 
for maximum effect. At last, I had 
him dead to rights! 

When Phil had closed the gap to 
within a step or two, I slammed that 
dead stick against the tree and it 
cracked like a rifle shot. With full- 
lung capacity, I then released a 
bloodcurdling, grizzly-like roar and 
crashed through the underbrush to- 
ward my unsuspecting victim. In an 
instant Phil's arms fell lifeless to 
their respective sides and his mouth 
flew open like a window shutter in a 
windstorm. The pathetic look on his 
face when I cleared the bushes was a 
sight never to be forgotten. Behind 
the brown and green splotches of 
Fred Bear camouflage facial paint 
was the pale white skin of a man 

whose heart had all but stopped 
pumping blood to the body. The 
debt was paid in full! 

But, there was one small problem 
— the man standing less than two 
feet away was not Phil Davis. Some- 
how, a stranger had wandered onto 
our mountain. In my haste to get 
even, I never once thought about the 
possibility of another hunter being 
there. It was a clear case of mistaken 
identity. Embarrassed and feeling 
about two inches tall, I attempted to 
offer an apology to the gentleman, 
but the only words that came out 
were, "I'm sorry, sir. I thought you 
were someone else." Without a 
reply, the man turned and walked 
away. And that's the image which 
remains forever locked in my mind. 

As suspected, Phil got down on 
the ground laughing when he heard 
the story. In retrospect it was amus- 
ing, but somewhere in this world 
today there is a woman who still 
questions why her husband gave up 
the sport that he lived for. Neither 
can she understand why, in the mid- 
dle of a hunting season, he carried 
all of his gear to the flea market. 
What could have happened that 
made him cancel the sacred sub- 
scriptions to Outdoor Life and Field & 
Stream? And why the sudden inter- 
est in golf? 

From somewhere across Otter 
River, a rooster interrupted the 
memory with his announcement of 
a new day. Straining to see the hands 
on my watch, I knew that, by now, 
Phil Davis was sitting comfortably 
in his newfangled portable stand 
two ridges away. Below me, a deer 
moved cautiously through the hon- 
eysuckle and all thoughts of revenge 
faded with the hopeful expectation 
of things to come. 

Did I ever settle the old score? You 
bet, but that's another story for an- 
other day! □ 

Mike Roberts is an accomplished writer 
and wildlife photographer. He is also exec- 
utive director of Return to Nature, an edu- 
cational outreach program that teaches 
children throughout Virginia about our 
natural and wildlife resources. 



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IV . iTCftUt 1 . 


If you hunt, fish, or enjoy 


outdoors you know the 

importance of 

owning a good knife. 

Knowing how to choose a 

knife for the right 

conditions is a 

serious matter that takes 

some time and 


by Tom Barnett 

Primitive man's knives were 
made the same way as arrow- 
heads. Stone was pressure 
pointed to chip away rock, breaking 
it into sharp serrated edges. Over 
the centuries, the cutting edge 
evolved to bronze, iron, and then 
steel. Knife handles were made of 
wood, bone, or antler. Ironically a 
significant portion of today's knife 
market demand is for partially ser- 
rated blades. Some of the more ex- 
pensive knife handles today incor- 
porate once primitive components 
as select woods, bone, and antler. 

Many of today's knife blades are 
high-tech stainless steel. Modern 
quality blades have Rockwell Scale 
hardness ratings. Many are cut out 
by lasers, and incorporate improved 
edge retention steel. Man's personal 
touch is still required to manufactur- 
er a knife. Grip selections are better 
than ever. Knife handles are fre- 

quently ergonomic, textured, space- 
age plastics, synthetics, and com- 

Knife Styles 

Knives are either straight or fold- 
ing. When open, folding knives are 
as big as straight knives. Folding 
knives are oversized pocketknives 
and normally single bladed. Folding 
saves space, and the handle be- 
comes a sheath. Large folding 
knives and straight knives are usual- 
ly carried in leather or synthetic 
sheaths on the belt. A locking mech- 
anism is a must for folding knives. A 
variety of new safety oriented lock- 
ing mechanisms for folding knives 
have recently become available. 
Straight and folding knives are 
made in a large variety of sizes, 
grades, and blade designs. There is 
an affordable, quality knife de- 
signed for everyone's needs. 

Obviously pocketknives fit into 
your pocket. They come in literally 
hundreds of sizes, styles, colors, and 
blade configurations. Most have 
double or triple blades. They serve a 
utilitarian purpose. 

New Generation Knives 

Manufacturers have responded 
to recent consumer demand by cre- 
ating huge selections of new genera- 
tion knives in both straight and fold- 
ing styles. These highly versatile 
knives incorporate traditional de- 
sign with new technology. Blade 
configurations offer partially serrat- 
ed edges. Sharp serrated blades cut 
through coarser materials more 
quickly than traditional edges. 
Many scuba divers and rescue per- 
sonnel prefer the new generation 
features. The serrated edge easily 
cuts through cord, rope, and seatbelt 
straps with less effort than smooth 
blades. Several manufacturers offer 
these blades with chisel 


When choosing a knife there are 
two styles to look for: folding blades 
(above) and straight blades (oppo- 
site page). 

Quick, easy opening and easy 
closing, one-handed opening pock- 
etknives have emerged. Some quali- 
ty knives offer ball bearing pivots to 
smooth movement. Space-age com- 
ponent handles are impact resistant, 
ultralight materials. The quantity of 
choices in design is mind boggling. 
Also, clever "clip knives" that clip 
into your pocket or belt have 
evolved. Knives have become both 
very generalized and specialized to- 
wards their intended uses. 

Purchasing a Knife 

There are a lot of factors to consid- 
er when purchasing a knife. Is it a 
hunting knife? Is it for big game or 
small game? Is it for work? Is the 
buyer on a budget? Is edge retention 
important? Is it a fishing knife or for 
water sports? Does the manufactur- 
er's warranty make any difference? 
They vary from one year to lifetime. 

The author, using his favorite pocket- 
knife, enjoys the simple pleasure of 

Schrade's "Uncle Henry" knives are 
guaranteed against loss for one year. 

Knifes are generally purchased 
based upon personal preference and 
intended purpose. Some buyers 
look before they buy. Few will pur- 
chase without handling the knife. It 
is a touchy-feely experience. 

While there are many brands to 
choose from, four companies manu- 
facture the majority of knives in the 
US. They are: W.R. Case since 1889, 

'ome a 

r "ett 



Buck since 1902, Imperial Schrade 
since 1905, and Gerber since 1939. 
Schrade's product line includes 
"Uncle Henry/' "Old Timer," and 
"Tradesman" cutlery. Other well- 
known manufacturers are Bear, 
Browning, SOG, Berretta, Bench- 
made, Cold Steel, and Spyderco. 
Swiss Army knives are very popular 
and good sellers, especially around 
Christmas. Numerous custom knife 
makers are in Virginia. 

Hardening the Steel 

Buck recommends, "Match the 
steel to the task." Buck shared their 
hardening process. Heat is the 
process by which mill steel is pre- 
pared to make it suitable for knife 
blades. For example, Buck begins 
with annealed 420HC stainless steel. 
The heat-treating process brings the 
blades to ideal hardness for edge re- 
tention. Blades reach a temperature 
of 2,000 degrees, and then are low- 
ered into the deep freeze at 120 de- 
grees below zero! In a three-step 
process, blades are again heated in 
an oven to 350 degrees up to 900 de- 
grees (depending on the steel). Once 
appropriately hardened, the rigor- 
ous process of edging begins. Steel 
properties vary hence does perform- 

lonfusion Technology 

Two years ago, Buck began man- 
ufacturing lonfusion knives. The 
specially coated knife is a cham- 
pagne color, and is sharper out of the 
box than their already very sharp 
products. I have used and compared 
an lonfusion folding knife afield and 
at home. After using it to process nu- 
merous deer from pajama removal 
to the freezer, the blade has been 
lightly retouched for sharpness, 
lonfusion performance is fantastic. 
They are sharpened on only one 
side. Buck's newest technology is 
slightly more expensive than stan- 
dard models. 

A long, thin blade is designed to 
make cleaning and filleting fish easier. 


Buck Knives patented the Zirco- 
nium Nitrate fusion to their 420HC 
stainless blades. Ionfusion blades 
advertised to hold an edge at least 
five times longer than standard 
blades. After going through a 12- 
step robotic cleaning process, the 
blades are placed into a Physical 
Vapor Deposition chamber where 
the Zirconium Nitrate is molecular- 
ly fused to the steel blades. The re- 
sults are blades three to four times 
harder than steel! The process 
makes the edge so hard it surpasses 
80 Rockwell C, the top of the scale. 
Then the blades are edged on the 
single side. 

More high-tech will be incorpo- 
rated into the product race between 
the quality knife manufacturers. 
Consumers will enjoy the 
improved products. 

In recent years folding blade knives 
have become very popular. People 
who enjoy spending time in the out- 
doors find them very handy because 
of their size and utility. 

Blade Steels 

The steel used in knife blades by 
the four major U.S. knife manufac- 
turers vary greatly. Easy to sharpen 
steel is soft. Soft steel does not hold 
an edge as long as higher quality 
hard steels. The higher grades of 
steel require less re-sharpening. 
There are many grades of stainless 
steel. Manufacturers seldom state 
the grade of the steel used in pricey 
knives. Just because "High Carbon 
Stainless Steel" is stated, it does not 
mean the highest steel grades are 
used in the knife being offered. 
Some stainless steels will rust. 

Many knives are designed as 
works of art and sought after 
by collectors. 

Handle Materials 

A wide variety of natural and 
man-made components are used for 
knife handles. The major manufac- 
turers have over-lapping usage with 
many of these materials. 

Natural component materials can 
be laminated, or stained. Rich 
grades of wood can be beautiful. 
Natural includes animal materials. 
Antler, horn, bone, and leather are 
currently being used. W.R. Case of- 
fers genuine mother-of-pearl pock- 
etknife handles. Case's traditional 
stacked leather handles are still 
available on their fixed blade knives. 

Space-age materials frequently 
have trademark names, and the ad- 
vertised names are: Kraton, Zytel, 
Staglon, Delrin, and Phenolic. Addi- 
tionally, glass reinforced nylon, air- 
craft grade aluminum, rubber, car- 
bon fiber, plastics, and thermoplas- 
tics are being used. Most artificial 
materials have traits that make them 
desirable for tough jobs because 
they are impact resistant. Others are 
stainable, millable, or moldable at a 
price. Some work better on straight 
knives and others on folding knives. 
Many thermoplastics are on water 
sports or filet knives for enhanced 
gripping when wet or slimy. 

A sharp knife is a safe knife 
handled properly. 



Sharpening Tips 

Each manufacturer has their own 
recommendations for how to sharp- 
en their products. The harder grades 
of steel are easier to resharpen for 
some people and the softer grades 
for others. There are many types of 
sharpeners. Extreme caution should 
be exercised to avoid accidental in- 
continued on page 21 


Mantel Clock 

This decorative mantel clock is crafted of solid 
cherry wood, beautifully engraved with a deer 
in a wildlife setting on the base of the clock. The 
clock face displays the VDGIF logo. This attrac- 
tive collectable is available in limited quantity. 
Measures approximately 6 1/2" x 4." 

Item VW-31. $29.95 



Desktop Cardholder with Clock 

This attractive desktop accessory with clock has been crafted of solid cherry and has 
been beautifully engraved. Two styles are available, hummingbirds or the bald eagle. 
Measures approximately 2" x 4 1/2". 

Item VW-32 (hummingbirds) or VW-33 (eagle). $14.95 


2002 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Knife 

The tlurd in our series of limited edition Virginia Wildlife knives has been customized by Bear Cutlery and made in the USA. Each knife is 

serial numbered, has the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries distinctive logo engraved on the bolster and has Virginia 

Wildlife etched on the blade. This attractive folding knife has genuine stag handles and is approximately 9 inches when fully 

opened. Each knife comes in a solid walnut gift box. A limited quantity of our 200 1 edition knife is still available. 

| Item VW-30 (2002 knife) . $75.00 

ItemVW-14 (2001 knife). $75.00 

Five piece Coaster Set 

Made of solid cherry, this attractive set of 4 
wooden coasters is packaged in a customized 
wooden box, engraved with a cardinal on a dog- 
wood branch. 

ItemVW-34. $24.95 




Yellow Lab Pups 
Tapestry Throw 

Created from a photograph by Virginia pho- 
tographer Dwight Dyke, these five Lab pups 
lay about in the warmth of their basket 
alongside the tools of their trade. This tapes- 
try throw, created exclusively for VDGIF, is 
triple jacquard woven of 100% cotton, ma- 
chine washable, and measures approxi- 
mately 52" x 69." 

Item VW-35. $44.95 


Matching Yellow Labs 
Tapestry Pillow 

Item VW-36. $19-95 


Virginia Wildlife Hats 

Our two new Virginia Wildlife hats are 100% cotton and size adjustable. These attractive 
hats have been embroidered with our Virginia Wildlife magazine logo and feature either a 
deer or a bass for the wildlife and fishing enthusiast. Hats available in High or Low Profile. 

Item VW-37 (low profile - bass) , VW-38 (high profile - bass) , VW- 
39 (low profile - deer), VW-40 (high profile - deer), VW-9 
(low profile - Virginia Wildlife), VW-8 (high profile - 
Virginia Wildlife) $ 1 1.95 ea. 





VDGIF offers once again 

our elegant timepiece. 

Each watch has been crafted especially for VDGIF by the Jules Jurgensen watch company. These 

fine collectables are available with either a stag or an eagle and each watch carries the VDGIF 

logo on the dial. 

Very limited quantities available. Watches are sold on a first come basis. 

Item VW- 11 (stag) or VW-12 (eagle). $75.99 


Item Description Price Quantity Subtotal 


High Profile Virginia Wildlife Hat 



Low Profile Virginia Wildlife Hat 



Pocket Timepiece, Stag 



Pocket Timepiece, Eagle 



2001 Limited Edition Knife 



Custom Walnut Plaque 



Medallion Key Ring 

$ 5.00 


2002 Limited Edition Knife 



Mantel Clock 



Desktop Cardholder/Clock.Hummingbird 



Desktop Cardholder/Clock.Eagle 



Five Piece Coaster Set 



Lab Tapestry Throw 



Lab Tapestry Pillow 



Low Profile Bass Hat 



High Profile Bass Hat 



Low Profile Deer Hat 



High Profile Deer Hat 



Shipping and Handling 

$ 6.25 


total amount enclosed 


(please print) 

City State Zip 

Payment Method: □ Credit Card □ Check/Money C 
□ Visa or □ MasterCard 


Exp. Month 

Do not leave spaces between numbers 


Credit Card Customer Signature 

Make check payable to Treasurer of Virginia, fill out form, clip, and mail to Virgir 
door Catalog, VDGIF, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. Please allo\ 
weeks for delivery. 

ia Wildlife Out- 
v three to four 


Walnut Plaque 

Display your trophy fish or hunting 
certificates as well as other awards 
with this custom plaque. Each plaque 
contains two medallions commis- 
sioned by VDGIF. Plaques are available 
in walnut. 

Item VW-16. $24.95 


Medallion Key Ring 

Secure your house or car keys with our 
medallion key ring. Each medallion 
displays the VDGIF logo. 

Item VW-26. $5.00 

continued from page 16 

jury while sharpening. For many 
people, the greatest challenge dur- 
ing sharpening is mamtaining a uni- 
form angle with countless draw 
strokes over a stone. When revers- 
ing the knife for the opposite side, 
the challenge begins anew. Dull 
knives have a tendency to be more 
dangerous than sharp knives. More 
pressure is usually exerted while 
cutting causing forced awkward 
motions. One slip can be disastrous. 
Knives are to be used safely and 

Knife Collecting 

The popularity of knife collecting 
and trading has grown rapidly the 
last several decades. Many people 
already have the beginning of a col- 
lection. Knives usually are not as ex- 
pensive as antiques, coins, firearms, 
or decoys. One never knows when a 
rare beauty will show up at a garage 
sale or a flea market. Knives have al- 
ways made great gifts and they have 
served a utilitarian function. 

There are numerous reasons why 
people select the knives they collect. 
All are a matter of personal taste. 
Some people desire a certain manu- 
facturer. W.R. Case, founded in 1889, 
probably has a greater following 
than most other brands. There is 
even a Case knife collecting club. 

What to Collect 

There is a certain something that 
creates a passion within a collector 
for a particular style of knife. Usual- 
ly, collectors desire patterned 
knives, certain handle materials, 
promotional, or specialty knives. 
Recently, limited edition 
knives have gained 






popularity with collectors while 
boosting the manufacturers' busi- 
ness. Out-of-production knives 
have quite an appeal. The older and 
the longer since a knife was pro- 
duced makes it more difficult to ob- 
tain. The value of a knife is based 
upon the old law of supply and de- 
mand as well as condition. 

Condition is important. Grading is 
usually as mint, which has never 
been carried or sharpened. Excellent 
is a knife that closes with a snap 
(pocketknife) and shows only light 
wear. Very good probably has only 
about 25 percent wear and offers 
clear stampings. Fair is a 50 percent 
knife. It may have weak stampings, 
cracks, or a mushy appearance. Poor 
is with broken handles, rust, and 
well worn. 

The Virginia Department of 
Game & Inland Fisheries has had 
limited edition (numbered) knives 
for three consecutive years. Some 

are still available and make wonder- 
ful Christmas gifts. □ 

Tom Barnett is an outdoor writer and pho- 
tographer from Glen Allen, Virginia. He is 
an avid hunter and collector of hunting 


Buck Knives: 

Buck Collector's Club 

Gerber Legendary Blades: 

Imperial Schrade: 

W.R. Case & Sons: 

Case Collector's Club 



In 2000, VDGIF began a series of 
numbered, limited edition knives. 
With the popularity of collecting, 
the first in the series quickly sold 
out. Limited numbers of the 2001 
(left) and the new 2002 knives 
(below) are available and can 
be ordered through the Out- 
door Catalog in the Octo- 
ber and November issues 
of Virginia Wildlife 


©Dwight Dyke 

Get a Bum Rap 

by Carol A. Heiser 
illustrations by Spike Knuth 


m he ecologiciil food web is like a well-oiled, 
m well-maintained machine. All the parts fit to- 
gether smoothly, and systems run in tandem with 
each other. If a part of the machine breaks down the 
consequences can start a chain reaction that ripples 
through the other pails. In the natural world, the 
"machine" is an orchestrated system of checks-and- 
balances called predator-prey relationships. Each 
member of the wildlife community either preys upon 
or becomes the prey of some other species. Some 
songbirds and small mammals eat insects; some 
snakes eat small mammals and birds; hawks and 
owls eat other birds and snakes. . .You get the pic- 
ture: it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. Predation, or 
who eats who, is one of the cornerstones of the food 
web that keeps animal populations under control and 
removes diseased or weakened individuals from the 
gene pool. 

This is a good tiling. Think about it. If all of the 
eggs that wild birds ever laid would actually make it to 
the hatchling stage, there would not be enough food 
resources to support the young. Small mammals and 
snakes perform a service by preying on many eggs, 
and raptors, like hawks, will prey on nestlings or 
adult birds. Predators make efficient use of the sur- 
plus. If predatory wasps and spiders were not around 
to prey on other insects, we'd be overrun 
with leaf munchers and wood 
chewers. The eventual 
repercussion would be 

massive plant defoliation, and subsequently, an effect on 
birds and mammals which rely on those same plants for food 
and cover. 

Shoot First, 
fish Questions Later? 

Unfortunately, predator control is ingrained in the Amer- 
ican psyche, and predators have an undeserved reputation 
for being "bad" animals. One can still hear quips like "the 
only good snake is a dead snake," or, "we should be able to 
shoot the hawks because they're eating all the rabbits." The 
implicit, but erroneous assumption, is that there must be too 
many predators. Many people incorrectly believe that feder- 
al laws which protect hawks and owls must mean that their 
numbers have increased. On the contrary, the numbers of 
most migratory species of hawks and owls continue to de- 
cline, with only a few species having reaped benefits. 

Aside from the fact that shooting hawks or other raptors 
is illegal, negative views like those mentioned above are 
short-sighted. They fail to recognize the value and role of 
predators, the mutual dependence between predators and 
prey, or the reality that removing all of the predators from an 
area does not significantly improve small game numbers 
anyway. Eradication does not work, because eliminating one 
predator species merely increases the percentage of other 

predators that will fill the void, hi fact, the real culprit is 
the deterioration or loss of habitat, not an overabun- 
dance of predators. 

Small animals, like this 
deer mouse, play an im- 
port role in the predator- 
prey relationship by eat- 
ing small insects and 
then themselves 
becoming food 
for larger ani- 
mals and birds. 



Suitable habitat is need- 
ed for any animal to live out 
its life and successfully 
raise another generation. 
What is "suitable"? It 
refers to the quality of food 
sources, the availability of ad- 
equate escape and winter 
cover, and the arrangement of plant 
material in areas used for nesting and 
rearing young. Too often, habitats have been 
broken up or fragmented into little pieces or is- 
lands and interspersed with areas that are ei- 
ther barely usable or are completely unsuitable 
for the particular animals in question. In these 
situations, prey animals are forced to live on 
marginal habitat, are more vulnerable while 
breeding, and are not as likely to escape preda- 
tion. The effects of predation are, therefore, 
more significant in poor habitat. Predators gain 
the upper hand, and the net result is a decline in 
the numbers of some prey species in those 

tion in autumn is made up of young birds 
hatched that year. Biologists had to figure out if 
low quail numbers were the result of too many 
adult quail being lost, not enough young being 
hatched, or some combination of both scenar- 

The detectives set about their work. Their 
mission: determine the survival rate of quail and 
find evidence of nest predation that might be im- 
pacting the total number of birds. The setting: 30 
farms in Virginia's piedmont and coastal plain. 
The players: 429 bobwhite quail (23 percent 
adults, 77 percent juveniles), temporarily 
trapped in order to equip each of them with a 
"necklace" outfitted with a radio transmitter and 
antenna. The plot: follow the quail around and 
monitor their nests and numbers. 

Every day during each breeding season, the 
biologists steadfastly followed their 
subjects and checked their nests, re- 
gardless of 100 degree heat, in- 
clement weather, or bug 
bites. What they found 
was astonishing: 39 
percent of the adult 
birds which had 
hatched a brood 
died within 10 days 
of their eggs hatch- 
ing. Out of the 102 
nests that were 
monitored, only 33 
percent of them 
hatched one or more 
chicks. Moreover, 13 
adults of the 102 
died on the 

Quail and 


a Balancing Act 

Getting a realistic picture of all these in- 
teractions is a tough task, and wildlife biol- 
ogists sometimes resort to creative detective 
work to learn the true condition of animal pop- 
ulations in an area. Recently, biologists at the 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fish- 
eries completed the field work of a four-year 
study on quail, an important indicator species 
of grassland habitats whose numbers have been 
declining since the early 1900s. 

Quail have a short life span and rarely live to 
one year. Over 77 percent of the quail popula- 

To better understand why the num- 
ber of quail have been declining in 
Virginia, VDGIF biologists have been 
using small radio transmitters to mon- 
itor their nesting habits and move- 



The mystery thickened. Treating each nest 
like a mini crime scene, they discovered that 
some nests showed more damage than others. 
Some had only a few eggs missing, some had 
bits of eggshells scattered about, and still others 
had no eggs at all. The biologists upped the 
ante. They installed remote control cameras at 
many nest sites. These cameras, which operate 
24 hours a day, have an in- 
frared sensor 
which detects 

the body heat of mammals. When an animal 
trips the sensor, its picture is taken. 

Caught in 
the Ret 

Suspects immediately emerged. The num- 
ber one animal they photographed was the 
opossum. A messy eater, this noc- 
turnal slowpoke bites into 
the shell to expose the yolk 
and either eats the whole 
thing or spits out the 
shells. Usually a pos- 
sum would eat 
most of the eggs 
in the nest, but 
sometimes it 
would get its fill 
before finishing 
the meal and would 
leave one or more behind. 
Number two on the list was the striped 
skunk. This predator leaves the nest in 
disarray and tramples the nearby veg- 
etation. A skunk is also a leisurely 
v eater, preferring to lie down, hold 
an egg near the ground, bite into it 
to expose the yolk, then slowly lick 
out the contents. 

Other predators implicated by the 

cameras were raccoons and gray 

foxes. Raccoons ate most of the eggs 

whole and somewhat displaced the 

By using remote control, in- 
frared cameras at night, bi- 
ologists have found that 
numerous predators, which 
include the striped skunk 
(left) and opossum (next 
page) were regularly raid- 
ing quail nests and eating 
their eggs. 

nest material, while foxes carefully removed 
one egg at a time with their teeth, taking each of 
the eggs separately to another location and 
leaving the nest intact. 

us. Habitat 

By now the intelligent sleuthing had led to 
even more questions. Would it make any differ- 
ence to quail numbers if we try trapping all the 
predators in the study area? What if we improve 
the habitat in that area? What if we do both? 

Comparison studies were conducted over 
the four years using different scenarios to an- 
swer these questions. In one setting the biolo- 
gists conducted trapping only, using leghold, 
cage, and egg traps to remove predators. In a 
second setting they made habitat improvements 
only, such as better field borders. The third set- 
ting entailed doing both predator control and 
habitat improvements. Throughout their stud- 
ies, they employed simple sand tracking sta- 
tions (see page 25) to get an index of the abun- 
dance of animals using the areas. Anothertech- 
nique also used was a quail covey call survey, in 
which the researchers went out two mornings 
at each farm in mid-October for four years, half 
an hour before sunset, to count the number of 
quail proclaiming territory. 

Once data collection was complete and the 
"jury" reviewed the case, a "verdict" was finally 
reached: blaming predators alone is not the an- 
swer. There was no significant increase in the 
number of quail coveys where only trapping 
was done, because predators continue to move 
in from surrounding areas, and it is virtually 
impossible to remove all of them. The area 
which showed the greatest increase in the num- 
ber of quail coveys was where both predator 
control and habitat improvements had been 
done. Benefits were also documented in the 
area where habitat improvement alone had 
been the changing factor. 



managing Habitats to 
Reduce Predation 

What it all boils down to is habitat, and in most 
cases the cover that's lacking. Without adequate cover 
to breed, raise young, or survive winter, wildlife has a 
tough time maintaining its numbers. Food is not usual- 
ly the limiting factor. Ironically, landowners who plant 
isolated food plots to encourage small game like quail 
and rabbits may be unwittingly contributing to their 
decline. Field evidence shows that food plots are most 
beneficial when located adjacent to thick cover, be- 
cause adequate escape cover is crucial to wildlife sur- 
vival. All the food in the world won't make a bit of dif- 
ference if animals have no where to hide when a pred- 
ator comes through, or if they can't conceal their nests 
sufficiently to raise their young. 

Suitable cover can take the form of thickets, mass- 
es of shrubs, wide corridors (greater than 50 feet) of 
vegetation between fields, or large expanses of tall 
plant material like native warm-season grasses. Plants 
such as indiangrass, switchgrass, and big bluestem are 
good choices for open fields because these species 
grow in clumps and have open spaces between the 
plants where birds and small mammals can forage. 
The height of plants is also important; tall plants pro- 
vide cover overhead that shields small game from the 
sharp eyes of hawks. Finally, the arrangement of the 
habitat elements and habitat types is key: grass- 
lands, field borders, shrub plots, and food 
plots need to be adjacent to each other to 
provide the maximum benefit. 

Make a Sand 
Tracking Station 

Curious to know what critters frequent your property? A tracking station can at- 
tract wildlife to a particular spot long enough to leave tracks which you can later 
identify. Fill a 5 gallon bucket about 3 A full with play sand and mix in a large (32 oz. ) 
bottle of unscented mineral oil from the drug store (using oil makes the sand retain 
moisture better than using water). Find a spot of bare ground, or use a shovel to 
scrape an area bare in your yard or in a field. Spread out the sand in a smooth layer; 
the station should be at least 20 to 24 inches wide. Put a strong- 
smelling bait in the middle, such as sardines or tuna fish. Leave 
the station overnight and check it in the morning. You are 
likely to see tracks of common animals like opos- 
sums, raccoons, foxes — and probably a few 
neighborhood dogs! Use a field guide of ani- 
mal tracks from your local library to 
identify your visitors. 




Did Vou Know? 
Fluffy's a Killer 

A free-roaming domestic cat can kill be- 
tween 100 to 200 birds and small mammals 
each year. That may not sound too bad, until 
you do the math. There are over 60 million pet 
cats in the United States, and only 35 percent of 
them are kept indoors; this means that over 40 
million are allowed to roam free at least some 
or all of the time. Add to that another 60 million 
stray or feral cats, and there's a lot of non-native 
predation going on! These consummate preda- 
tors are taking a silent toll on wildlife: 60 to 70 
percent of the animals they kill are small mam- 
mals; 20 to 30 percent are birds; and up to 10 
percent are amphibians, reptiles and insects. 
Ground-nesting songbirds are particularly vul- 
nerable. Although habitat loss and fragmenta- 
tion are still the leading causes of declining bird 
populations, domestic cat predation com- 
pounds the problem. In addition, free-roaming 
cats are formidable competitors with native 
predator species. Most people assume that if 
they keep their pet cat well fed, it will not harm 
wildlife while it prowls about outside. Au con- 
traire! Well-fed cats are proven to kill at the 
same rate as hungry ones. The solution? Keep 
cats indoors. Visit the American Bird Conser- 
vancy web site for other aspects of this issue, at 

Cats make wonderful 
pets, but considering 
their natural hunting 
abilities, allowing them 
to roam freely out- 
doors can lead to the 
needless killing of 
birds and other 
small animals. 


Available from the Virginia Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries, call (804) 367- 

• Beyond the Food Patch-2S\ excellent guide 
to restoring open land habitat that benefits 
small mammals and birds 

• Native Warm Season Grasses for Virginia 
and North Carolina-^, good companion to 
the above, this 10-page booklet outlines 
how to establish and maintain meadow 
habitats that benefit wildlife and that can 
also be used by farmers to graze cattle. 

• Trapping and Fur bearer Man age - 
w«//-techniques for managing predators. 

Useful Web Sites: 

• "Predators to the Wild Turkey," a factual 
paper about research conducted by the 
Mississippi State University Extension Ser- 
vice: http://msucares.comAvildfish/turkey 

• "Birds and Wildlife as Grasshopper Preda- 
tors," an interesting article that details the 

importance of bird predation on an abun- 
dant, open-land insect, the grasshopper; 
found in the USD As Integrated Pest Man- 
agement Handbook at 

• The Raptor Information Center of the Uni- 
versity of Minnesota offers educational ma- 
terial about hawks, owls, and other preda- 
tory birds. Find teaching activities about the 
osprey, including a lesson on predator-prey 
relationships. From the home page at click on "Learn 
About Raptors" and then "Teacher Lesson 

• Free educational resources available at Look for "A Home 
for Pearl," a video and teacher's guide 
(pre-K to 6th grade). Originally produced 
in 1990 by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the 
kit contains lesson plans on habitats and 
predators. Another good teaching site is the 
Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, at On the home 
page, click on "Across the Curriculum," 
then click on "Curriculum Resources." □ 


v \ Naturally 


VDGIF 2002 
Calendar of Events 

November 2: Family Falconry Day, 
Camp Virginia Jaycee, Roanoke. For 
information call (804) 367-6351. 

December 13-14: Women's Deer 
Hunt, York River State Park. For in- 
formation call (804) 367-6351 . □ 


"Get HIP" 

It's the Law. 

All migratory bird hunters must 
be certified through the Harvest In- 
formation Program (HIP) before 
they can legally hunt any kind of mi- 
gratory birds in the United States. If 
you hunt migratory birds without 
being certified you can be ticketed 
and fined. Hunter participation in 
this program is critical for conserva- 
tion of migratory bird resources and 
protection of the hunting heritage. 
To register, hunters can call 1-800- 
938-5262 or use the Department's 
Web site to register on-line at □ 

Virginia Wins the 2002 
4-H Wildlife Habitat 
Evaluation Contest 

Virginia's 4-H Wildlife Habitat 
Evaluation Program (WHEP) team 
took first place in the team competi- 
tion at the 2002 4-H WHEP National 
Contest near Wooster, OH, on July 
27. Tennessee's team placed second, 
and Alabama's team took third. The 
contest was held at Killbuck Wildlife 

Front row left to right: Josh Salatin, Augus- 
ta County, and Emily Smith, Loudoun 
County. Back row left to right: Rosemary 
Martin and Jordan Clough, Loudoun 

Management Area and Ohio State 
University and Agricultural Techni- 
cal Institute. 

The contest, which is held annu- 
ally in different regions of the coun- 
try, attracted 98 4-H participants and 
more than 45 coaches and guests 
from 26 states. Participants judged 
wildlife habitat in the wetlands re- 
gion using habitat evaluation skills 
they learned through their local 4-H 
WHEP training. 

Contestants individually judged 
the suitability of habitat for wildlife 
species through on-sight evaluation 
and aerial photographs. As teams, 
they also wrote urban and rural 
wildlife management plans for nine 
wildlife and fish species. 

Alabama team member John 
Mullins took first place in the indi- 

vidual competition. Georgia's 
Melissa Jamison and Alabama's Jes- 
sica McGalliard placed second and 
third respectively. 

Participants spotted sandhill 
cranes, wood ducks, and Canada 
geese as they competed in the rural 
management practices events held 
on Killbuck Wildlife Management 
Area. Participants were treated to 
lively recreational activities includ- 
ing canoeing and a tour of Amish 
Country, campfire activities, a 
dance, and hours of swimming, 
mountain biking, horseback riding, 
fly fishing training, shooting sports 
activities, and sightseeing. 

The national contest is sponsored 
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
International Paper, the Rocky 
Mountain Elk Foundation, and the 
National Rifle Association, and 
many local sponsors including Ohio 
Division of Natural Resources, Ohio 
4-H Foundation, numerous local 
chapters of Pheasants Forever, Ohio 
State University School of Natural 
Resources, White-tails Unlimited, 
Western Reserve Chapter, Ohio 
Chapter The Wildlife Society and 
numerous chapters of the Izaak Wal- 
ton League of America. Other spon- 
sors of the program and national 
manual include The Ruffed Grouse 
Society, Wildlife Forever, and USDA 
Cooperative Research, Education & 
Extension. Tall Timbers Research 
Station, Tallahassee, Florida, donat- 
ed custom shooting shirts for the 
winning team and coaches. 

WHEP is a 4-H youth natural re- 
source program dedicated to teach- 
ing wildlife and fisheries habitat 
management to junior and senior 
level (ages 8-19) youth in the United 



States. WHEP won the 1996 Wildlife 
Society Conservation Education 
Award. The Wildlife Society is the 
professional organization that certi- 
fies wildlife biologists nationwide. 

"The goal of WHEP is to teach our 
nation's youth how to be wise stew- 
ards of our wildlife and fisheries re- 
sources/' said Charlie Lee, incoming 
WHEP National Committee Chair. 
"Although the competition is im- 
portant, it is not the sole focus of the 
program. The kids are exposed to 
field trips and fun activities as well." 

"WHEP events help participants 
to develop speaking, critical think- 
ing skills, and skills for working as a 
team. The kids are given real world 
situations and work together to pro- 
vide solutions to natural resource 
problems that managers face," said 
Dr. Ron Masters, outgoing WHEP 
National Committee Chair. 

"The kids that participate in 
WHEP eventually become members 
of the work force that know how to 
create better habitat for wildlife and 
fish, no matter what professional 
field they have chosen," said Dr. Jim 
Armstrong, National Committee 
member. "These are also the people 
that end up making informed deci- 
sions about wildlife issues at the bal- 
lot box." □ 

What Goes Around. .. 

by Jennifer Worrells 

Justice is often served in unusual 
ways, as Chesterfield game warden, 
Jim Croft, found during a series of 
unusual arrests over the span of his 
career. The story began years ago 
when he was the new student in his 
seventh grade class. As Croft was 
leaving school, another boy rode by 
on a bicycle and hit him in the head 
with a clipboard. Croft swore to get 

revenge, but the opportunity never 
presented itself while the boys were 
in school. 

Years later, when Croft was a po- 
lice officer in Sussex County, he 
went to Norfolk to complete an in- 
vestigation. While having lunch in a 
sub shop, an unsavory character ap- 
proached the officer and offered to 
sell him marijuana. Croft arrested 
the perpetrator. He found out in 
court that the suspect had the same 
name as the boy who hit him in the 
seventh grade; Croft dismissed the 
incident as coincidence and forgot 
about it. 

Time passed, and Croft became a 
game warden in Chesterfield Coun- 
ty. One hot summer day, the warden 
was checking licenses when he no- 
ticed an older gentleman and a fa- 
miliar rough-looking man fishing 
on the bank. The men noticed Croft 
and the younger one put down his 
pole. Croft immediately went to 
check their licenses; as suspected, 
the man of questionable appearance 
had no fishing license. As the war- 
den looked closer, he realized this 
fellow was the same one he had ar- 
rested in the sub shop years ago. 

When the individual questioned 
Croft about the license check, the of- 
ficer said to him, "Well, it's not like 
you tried to sell me drugs in a sub 
shop, is it?" 

The suspect's jaw dropped as he 
quickly recognized who he was 
dealing with. Croft then asked him 
about his middle school and his 
teachers. Croft realized the violator 
was indeed the wielding clipboard 

A background check with dis- 
patch revealed that the transgressor 
had a suspended driver's license 
also; Croft then waited to see which 
man had driven to the fishing spot. 
Naturally, the suspect climbed be- 
hind the wheel of the truck, so the 
warden stopped the two men after 
they had proceeded down the road. 
As Croft wrote the additional sum- 
mons, the offender leaned out the 
window and said, "You're not still 
angry about that incident in middle 
school are you?" □ 

Fly Fishing Basics 

Here's your chance to learn more 
about one of the fastest growing and 
popular outdoor activities, fly-fish- 
ing, and it's free to the public. The 
Bill Wills Chapter of Trout Unlimit- 
ed, the Federation of Fly Fishers, 
and the Virginia Department and 
Game and Inland Fisheries will be 
offering courses in basic fly fishing 
beginning Saturday, November 2, 
and every first Saturday of the 
month November through March 3, 
2003. Classes begin at 10:00 a.m. in 
the activities building located at 
Northwest River Park, Chesapeake, 
Virginia. Instructions in casting, fly- 
tying, and matching your equip- 
ment for a better fly fishing experi- 
ence are just a few of the helpful ac- 
tivities taking place each month. 

No registration is required, and 
the sessions are free. You may bring 
your own equipment if you like, but 
it's not required. For more informa- 
tion contact the Northwest River 
Park at (757) 421-7151, Bill Campbell 
at (757) 499-1172, or e-mail flyty- □ 

FortA.P. Hill "Save the 

Fish" Project Rescues 

Finned Friends from 

Drought-Stricken Pond 

by Ken Perrotte 

The severe drought of 2002 has 
impacted vegetation, dried up shal- 
low wells, and lowered rivers and 
ponds to drastically low levels. 



and restocked during July and Au- 
gust. The fish rescue continued 
through the summer and into the 
fall. □ 

VDGIF and Fort A. R Hill biologists rescued and relocated more than 2,700 fish 
due to severe drought conditions. 

Aquatic life in these ponds has suf- 
fered greatly. 

At Fort A. P. Hill, in Caroline 
County, dropping water levels in 
several ponds generated concern. In 
one major pond, Buzzards Roost, 
water levels were dropping at a rate 
of 8 inches a month, impacting recre- 
ation and military training for 
troops using the site to practice Re- 
verse Osmosis Water Purification. 

The pond, home to bass, crappie, 
catfish, and several sunfish species, 
was rapidly reaching the point 
where the fish would begin dying 
due to thermal stress and over- 
crowding as a result of decreasing 

Drastic times call for drastic 

measures, and the great fish lift of 
2002 was born. More than 2,700 fish 
were captured and restocked into an 
alternate pond, Lonesome Gulch, in 
July and August. Fish were captured 
using an electro-fishing boat. The 
post's fisheries biologist, Brian 
"Scutter" Lee, led the team efforts. 

Lee said the total value of fish col- 
lected was $17,878. Replacement 
costs were determined using the Vir- 
ginia Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries fish replacement val- 
ues. Only 14 fish perished during 
the capturing, transporting, and re- 
stocking process. Based on mean 
population estimates calculated for 
largemouth bass, approximately 37 
percent of the bass were captured 


v Tew River 

Book Review 

reviewed by Ron Messina 

Fishing the Neiv River Valley 
An Angler's Guide 
by M.W. Smith 

$12.95 (ISBN 0-8139-2098-1, pub. 
April 2002, University Press of Vir- 
ginia, map plus photos, paperback 

Weighing in at just 94 pages, Fish- 
ing the Neiv River Valley packs an 
enormous amount of information 
into a small book an angler can carry 
streamside. This no-nonsense 
"pocket guide" features a lot of solid 
facts anyone fishing the New River 
Valley needs: specifics on where to 
find and catch trout and small- 
mouth bass, detailed river and lake 
descriptions, personal streamside 
accounts, and even directions to 
food and lodging. 

Smith has fished the waters of the 
New River Valley for over 25 years 
and knows their secrets; as propri- 
etor of Greasy Creek Outfitters, he 
understands the kind of questions 
anglers ask and he provides an- 
swers. From floating the New River 
on a walleye trip, to fishing for na- 
tive brook trout in the mountains, all 
the baits, flies, access points and 
dangerous rapids are noted. If you 
are planning to fish waters of the 
New River Valley, this little book 
will be worth it' s weight in gold . □ 





The Wildlife Foundation of 
Virginia dedicated Fulfill- 
ment Farms this past spring 
in memory of the late 
Thomas Griffin Herring, an ardent 
and early supporter of America's 
conservation movement and a life- 
long champion of hunting and fish- 
ing in Virginia. He served for many 
years on the Virginia Commission of 
Game and Inland Fisheries, begin- 
ning in 1933. The dedication of this 
pristine property was made possible 
by Mr. Herring's grandson, the late 
Thomas Herring Forrer, who be- 
queathed this property to The 
Wildlife Foundation of Virginia. 

Over a 30-year period, dating 
back to the 1950s, Thomas Forrer 
had the foresight to begin acquiring 
land with the sole intent 
of one day donating it for 
conservation and for the 
enjoyment of outdoor en- 
thusiasts. Mr. Forrer com- 
pleted the land acquisi- 
tion in 1985, which com- 
prised nearly 2,000 acres 
of extraordinary habitat 
for many native Virginia 
species. This gift is an ex- 
ample of how individu- 
als can contribute to and 
leave a legacy of conser- 
vation stewardship. 

Among opportunities 
offered on the property 
are spring turkey and fall 
deer hunts specifically 
designed for youth and 
women in the outdoors. 
These successful pro- 
grams, offered in con- 
junction with the Virginia 
Department of Game and 

Inland Fisheries, serve as model pro- 
grams to introduce our young peo- 
ple and women to quality outdoor 
experiences that will encourage 
them to keep coming back. 

The mission of The Wildlife 
Foundation of Virginia is "To assist 
in the conservation, protection and 
enhancement of the wildlife and 
habitat resources throughout the 
Commonwealth of Virginia." The 
Foundation's primary emphasis is 
on land acquisition and the develop- 
ment and enhancement of wildlife 
habitat, either through the direct 
purchase of land, donations, or the 
transfer of industrial properties that 
are suitable for conservation pro- 
grams. In keeping with its mission, 
the Foundation focuses on partner- 

ships with private sector individuals 
and organizations interested in the 
conservation and sustainable use of 
Virginia's outdoor resources and co- 
operative arrangements with gov- 
ernment agencies and other organi- 
zations whose mission and objec- 
tives include natural resource man- 
agement and habitat protection. 

The Wildlife Foundation is cur- 
rently engaged in a fund-raising 
campaign to provide funds for ac- 
quisition of similar properties 
around the Commonwealth. To 
learn more about the Foundation, its 
programs and ways you can help, 
contact Jason Hester, Executive Di- 
rector at 804-285-2250 or email 
om. □ 


Thanks to the assistance of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, VDGIF was able to offer the 
first of many youth deer hunts at Fulfillment Farms last hunting season. 


by Joan Cone 

Ideas For Ground Venison 

When butchering deer, keep a pair 
of bowls handy. Have one for 
small scraps to be used as deer burger. 
The other is for thicker scraps which 
can be cut into chunks for stew. 

Never add fat to your ground veni- 
son until ready to cook, as it does not 
freeze well. After grinding, use a scale 
and make one pound packages. Wrap 
twice in Saran Cling Plus or equiva- 
lent. If you have a vacuum packer, 
place your wrapped meat within the 
special bags for sealing in your ma- 
chine. Lacking a vacuum packer, place 
packages in heavy duty plastic freezer 
bags and draw out air with a straw be- 
fore closing. Properly sealed, frozen 
ground venison will keep more than a 
year without change in color or flavor. 


Fried Oysters 

Venison Lasagna 

Tossed Italian Garden Salad 

Maple Fruit Crisp 

Fried Oysters 

1 to 2 cups dry pancake mix 
1 pint shucked oysters, drained 
Oil for frying 
Cocktail or tartar sauce 

Put pancake mix into a large shal- 
low bowl. Add oysters, a few at a time 
and toss lightly until well-coated. 
Shake off excess breading and place 
oysters in wire basket. Fry in oil at 
350°F until golden brown, V/i to 2 
minutes. Drain on paper towel. Re- 
peat process until all oysters are 
cooked. Serve with cocktail or tartar 
sauce. Makes 4 servings, about 8 oys- 
ters each. 

Note: Equal results can be obtained by 
frying oysters in 1 to 2 inches hot oil in 
a large fry pan. Keep turning oysters 
until browned. 

Venison Lasagna 

1 pound ground venison 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

2 cans (8 ounces each) no-salt added 

tomato sauce 
Vi cup water 

1 can (6 ounces tomato paste) 

2 bay leaves 

2 teaspoons sugar 
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
1 package (16 ounces) lasagna 

noodles, cooked, rinsed, and 

1 cupricotta 
1 small zucchini, sliced and cooked 

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream 

In a skillet, cook venison and garlic 
over medium heat until meat is no 
longer pink; drain. Add tomato sauce, 
water, tomato paste, bay leaves, sugar, 
parsley, and Italian seasoning; mix 
well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. 
Simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 min- 
utes. Discard bay leaves. Spread Vi 
cup meat sauce in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch bak- 
ing dish coated with nonstick cooking 
spray. Arrange 5 noodles over sauce, 
cutting to fit. Spread with ricotta. 
Cover with 5 noodles, half the meat 
sauce and the zucchini. Cover with 5 
noodles and sour cream. Top with re- 
maining noodles and meat sauce. 
Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350° 
F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until 
heated through. Makes 12 servings. 

Tossed Italian Garden Salad 

10 cups torn romaine lettuce 

2 cups sliced mushrooms 
2 plum tomatoes, chopped 
1 small zucchini, sliced 

V4 cup chopped red onion, optional 
l A cup chopped fresh basil leaves 
V2 to 3 A cup Italian dressing 

Toss greens, vegetables and basil 
with dressing. Makes 6 servings. 

Maple Fruit Crisp 

5 medium cooking apples, peeled, 

cored, and thinly sliced 
2 firm ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, 

peeled, cored, and thinly sliced 
% cup fresh or frozen cranberries 

2 tablespoons golden raisins 

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 

1 tablespoon flour 

V4 cup flour 
l A cup oats 

2 tablespoons finely chopped 

l A cup firmly packed light brown 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 
V4 teaspoon salt 
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 


3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large 
bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. 
Toss to coat well. Sprinkle on the flour 
and toss again. Scrape the fruit into an 
8 x 8-inch pan and smooth the top. 

To make the topping: Combine the 
first 6 topping ingredients. With your 
fingertips, rub in the butter bits until 
coarse crumbs form. Stir in the maple 
syrup just until the crumbs are evenly 
moistened (the mixture will be a little 
gooey). With your fingers, sprinkle 
the mixture on top of the fruit, break- 
ing up any large chunks. Bake 40 to 50 
minutes, or until the filling is bubbly 
and the apples are tender. Serve warm 
or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6. 

Virginia's Finest 



Winter lay-up is always a sad 
time for the recreational boater 
because it marks the end of the boat- 
ing season and the prelude to freez- 
ing rain, ice and snow. As sad as it is, 
it can be a lot sadder if you miss one 
of the important steps in the process. 
Of course you can avoid all the trials 
and tribulations by having your ves- 
sel winterized by professionals. 
Most will guarantee their work and 
save you the worry of finding a 
problem when you de-winterize. 

There are a few of us who store 
our boats too far away from profes- 
sional help and / or simply prefer to 
do it ourselves. My tale comes from 
a combination of the two. 

Of course, your biggest concern 
during winterizing is to properly 
protect your power plant because a 
missed step here can result in an ex- 
pensive discovery next spring. Your 
first concern is to drain all water 
from your vessel and especially all 
parts of your engine. As we all 
know, water expands when frozen 
and builds up such tremendous 
force that it can crack solid steel, so 
we sure don't want it trapped any- 
where it can break something. 

Interior parts of your power plant 
that normally circulate water for 
cooling, can also rust if left open to 
the air for the entire winter. So, not 
only do we have to drain the water, 
we should coat the interior with a 
rust inhibitor. Of course, refilling 
those water chambers with an an- 
tifreeze and rust inhibitor is the best 
course of action. Here, I recommend 
using a special antifreeze made for 
recreational facilities that will not 

Tfe W*fe> 

by Jim Crosby 

Winter Lay-up Tale 

poison the environment when ex- 
pelled in the spring. 

Many think of changing the oil to 
protect the engine during the sum- 
mer fun. Manufacturers recom- 
mend changing the oil while winter- 
izing to protect the engine during 
winter lay-up and start off the sea- 
son with fresh oil — protection for 
both seasons. 

Everybody knows that an empty 
or half-full tank will collect conden- 
sation inside during temperature 
changes. That condensation builds 
up all winter to drop into your gas 
and collect in the bottom of your 
tank. Vigorous movement of your 
boat and the two mix causing seri- 
ous problems when fed through the 
carburetor. Even if you don't under- 
stand this phenomenon, just go on 
and fill your tank after each trip on 
the water. Don't fall prey to the com- 
mon practice of only filling up be- 
fore a trip and never, ever store your 
boat over the winter with anything 
less then full gas tanks. Adding a 
fuel stabilizer is a must as well! 

Another step in winterizing your 
power plant is to spray your wires 
and exposed metal parts with a rust 
and moisture inhibitor available at 
most supply centers. A carburetor 
solvent should be sprayed into the 
air intake to keep the gas from jelling 
in the jets over the winter as well. 

Finally, you should remove all 
those items that can be affected by 
freezing temperatures like first aid 
kits, flashlights, binoculars, com- 
pass, PFDs, and fire extinguishers, 

Make sure your wet-cell battery is 

kept charged because a discharged 
battery will freeze and destroy itself. 
And at last, please remember this 
is not, and cannot be, an all-inclusive 
guide to winter lay-up. I sincerely 
recommend that if you decide to do- 
it-yourself, obtain a copy of the man- 
ufacturer 's instructions and follow 
them absolutely because to do oth- 
erwise can be very expensive. Trust 
me, I goofed on a winter lay-up once 
and it cost me $1,200 in shop repairs. 
As a matter of fact, most of what I 
know about boats and boating, I 
have learned from the many mis- 
takes I have made over the years! Is 
there any other way? □ 


Winterizing your boat not only pro- 
tects your investment but assures that 
everything will be shipshape for next 
season. Photo by Lee Walker. 





story and photos by Marlene A. Condon 


Cosmos is a lovely plant that germi- 
nates and grows well in Virginia. 

his is the time of year when seed 
catalogs have arrived or on their 
way through the mail. Thus, it is a 
good time to look for the kinds of 
seeds that are useful to wildlife, easy 
to grow (i.e. germinate well), and 
pretty and / or fragrant for people to 

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is a 
great plant for the cultivated sunny 
garden, especially now with 
drought becoming a common prob- 
lem in Virginia. Tolerant of poor soil, 
high temperatures, and little water, 
Cosmos flowers will thrive and de- 
light the home gardener with lovely 
daisy-like flowers on tall stems with 


Flowers Easy to Grow From 
Seed For Wildlife 

ferny foliage. The flowers of "Sensa- 
tion Mix" are white, rose, and pink. 
They are made even more colorful 
by the birds and butterflies attracted 
to them! 

Butterflies have no trouble perch- 
ing on the flat blooms to feed on nec- 
tar. After they and other insects have 
fertilized the blossoms, green seeds 
draw in lots of bright-yellow Ameri- 
can goldfinches. 

The zinnia is another plant that 
withstands high heat and does not 
have to be "babied." Unfortunately, 
it is more difficult nowadays to find 
the kind of zinnias that are wonder- 
ful wildlife plants. Most of the zin- 
nias in catalogs have double blos- 
soms, but double-flowered varieties 
of plants are not useful to wildlife. 
The numerous petals that comprise 
each flower make it difficult or im- 
possible for insects to reach the nec- 

Allow at least 12 inches of space 
between each zinnia plant to mini- 
mize its susceptibility to powdery 
mildew. However, this fungus is 
only a threat to your sense of aes- 
thetics and not a threat to the plant, 
so do not try to treat your zinnias 
with fungicide if the whitish mildew 
appears on the leaves. Finches will 
eat the seeds of zinnias so leave the 
dried plants standing when fall ar- 

Two other kinds of plants that 
grow easily from seed are lance- 
leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceola- 
ta) and perennial pea (Lathyrus lati- 
folius). Both have lots of nectar for in- 
sects. Coreopsis provides seeds for 
numerous species of birds during 
fall and winter and perennial pea 
plants often support aphids that at- 
tract goldfinches during the grow- 
ing season and ruby-crowned 
kinglets well into winter. □ 

Zinnias comes in many colors and is 
an easy plant for a child to grow. 

Grow perennial pea vines, and you 
will have silver-spotted skippers most 
of the summer, as they are quite at- 
tracted to these flowers for nectar. 



story and illustration 
by Spike Knuth 

Many of the sayings or terms we 
use in our language today find 
their origins in the manners and 
habits of animals, such as "busy as a 
beaver," "sneaky as a snake," and 
"crazy as a loon." One of the most 
common is "playing 'possum," be- 
cause of the opossum's habit of 
feigning death to discourage harass- 
ment. During this act, it will actually 
reduce its pulse and heartbeat and 
go limp. 

The opossum belongs to an order 
of pouched animals, of which they 
are the only North American mem- 
ber. It has long, coarse fur; a sharp, 
slender muzzle; prominent, thin, 
naked ears; short legs, and a long, 
grasping tail. It is very rat-like in ap- 

Opossums live in thickets, wood- 
lands, swamps, along streams, in or- 
chards, around farms, and they fre- 
quently wander into the suburbs 
and cities. They'll eat a wide variety 
of vegetable and animal matter, with 
a preference for flesh. Opossums 
will dig for insects and grubs, and 
will eat carrion and man-produced 
garbage, as well as birds, small ro- 
dents, frogs, fish, bird eggs, and it 
has been known to raid the hen 
house! They are also fond of nuts, 
and vegetables, wild or cultivated 
fruits, including persimmons, ap- 
ples, and berries. It will even visit 
the garden to feed on disposed 
squash, melons, and pumpkins. 

Opossums live in the cavities of 
hollow trees, fallen logs, rock piles, 
old squirrel nests, brush piles, trash 
heaps, and old outbuildings. It 
makes a nest lined with leaves and 
grass, which it collects by mouth 



Didelphis virginiana 

and pushes it back under its belly to 
its tail, held in a loop, and drags the 
bundle to its nest. They may even 
move in with a skunk! 

Young opossums are born in Jan- 
uary to March, only 13 days after 
conception. There are 12 to 18 in a lit- 
ter which would barely fill a tea- 
spoon. At this early stage each 
weighs about a 15th of an ounce, 
and their transparent bodies reveal 
internal organs. Mama 'possum has 
a fur-lined pouch on her belly in 
which she carries her babies. She is 
capable of tightening up the muscles 
around the opening so her tiny off- 
spring won't fall out as she moves 

To feed and grow, the little 
opossums must climb up to 
one of 12 of the female's teats. 
Once attached, they seldom 
let go. Obviously, some will 
not make it and die long before 
maturity. They remain in or 
close to the pouch for about 
two months, when they 
reach mouse-size. They 
now cling to the 
mother, often travel- 
ing on her back 
until old enough to 
travel on their own, 
which is at about 
three months. Sec- 
ond litters are born in 
May to early June. 

Opossums are 
nomadic and noc- 
turnal animals, S 
wandering far and 
wide. They are ex- 
cellent climbers, 
with hind feet being 

almost hand-like with a long flexible 
toe that can meet and close with any 
of its other toes, giving it the ability 
to grasp branches. They are also sur- 
prisingly strong swimmers. It is also 
able to use its tail for grasping and 

Opossums are considered semi- 
hibernators, meaning that they will 
curl up in some warm place during 
extreme cold spells, but will remain 
active in some fairly cold tempera- 
tures, witnessed by the fact that 
many actually freeze their ear 
tips and tail at times. D 

Discover Oar Wild Side 

v TVavel the Newly Opened Coastal Phase 

For maps only call: I -866-VA-BIRDS. For information: or 

Virginia Wildlife 


he Perfect Gift for the Holidays 

"his holiday season save $40 
/by giving Virgini^Wildlife to 

1 of yoLH>friends! 

As a special holiday promotion, 
you can give a full year of Vir- 
ginia Wildlife to 1 or more friends for 
only $6.00 apiece! Thats a 40% savings 
off the regular subscription price! Simply 
include the full name and address of 
each person to whom you would like to 
send a subscription. 

This special holiday offer 
expires December 3 1 ,2002. 

But, remember, even one subscrip- 
tion to Virginia Wildlife is still a 
great gift idea that gives all 
year long, atjust 
$ 1 0.00 per year. 
All orders must be 
prepaid. Make the 
check payable to Treasurer of 
Virginia." Mail to Virginia 
Wildlife, PO. Box 1 1 1 04, Rich- 
mond, VA 23230- 1 1 04. Please 
allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. 



Virginia Wildlife Magazine subscription calls onlv 1-800-710-9369 
' Twelve issues for $10.00! 
All other calls to (804) 367-1000 
Visit our Well site at